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November 9th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Thirsty for Training

By Manny Hondroulis

In my 20 years in the window film and paint protection film (PPF) industries, I’ve recognized a real thirst for “training.” I put the term in quotes because many industry members consider training to be just hands-on installation. Perhaps because, generally speaking, that is the training that is widely available in our industry. Hopefully that changes. In fact, I want to help change it.

Part of the Change

Our company has been training dealers since its incorporation in 1985. From its inception to this day, most of the training EPD provides is sales, marketing and technical. It has been only within the past 10 years that we have also focused on the hands-on piece.

There is no doubt that new industry members need it all. Whether an installer or a salesperson, understanding all aspects of film will help you install and sell. After all, there is no need to install what you can’t sell and there is no point in selling what you can’t install.

For a 55-year-old industry, window film (and PPF) are not well-known to the average consumer. There are multiple reasons for this; one of which I believe is because as an industry we may not necessarily understand the finer points of the product we sell. No one should feel bad about that or get defensive. In fact, I can claim ignorance on many aspects of the product because I learn something new every day.

To that end, I have been on a personal quest this year to offer any technical, sales or marketing advice to anyone who needs it—usually more for the flat glass audience as those films and their uses tend to be more involved. I’ve been more engaged within various social media groups, chiming in with what I hope is useful information for the recipient.

Random replies to industry forum posts, while helpful to those following the thread, are not what the industry needs on a broader scale. Recent industry trends tell me that we need much more structured training.

On the Climb

First, it appears that the industry is growing in membership. It seems that year after year, there is substantial growth of new industry players—just look at the substantial increase in membership of relevant Facebook groups. These new members are dealers, installers and salespeople. It should come as no surprise, really. Manufacturers are growing product awareness and reaching out to complementary industries to find new avenues of growth.

Look no further than ceramic coating. Does it really belong to the window film industry? Not really, at least not by the strict standard that our industry installs rolled goods sticky side down. But ceramic coating and paint correction are embraced by many auto tint and PPF automotive salons. I wouldn’t be surprised if our industry sells more ceramic coating than the traditional detailing industry, which also embraces our industry’s films.

Second, our industry has low barriers to entry, which means that training is not necessarily required to open shop. While an electrician needs a license to practice, a window film installer doesn’t (apart from whatever license is necessary to operate a business). This lack of licensure may explain the overall lack of sales, marketing, and technical training available.

As mentioned earlier, I’m hoping to help change the way our industry accesses training simply by offering industry members another option on what is already a small list. I plan to offer manufacturer-neutral product training via podcasts, videos and online training modules from which new members as well as industry veterans can learn. The curriculum and content
have been developed; I now just have to put pencil to paper to make it available to those wanting to learn.

I believe that greater education will help our industry colleagues understand the ins and outs of films so that we set proper expectations of the product’s performance with the end-user. I also believe that meeting end-user expectations on a consistent basis will create more word of mouth of our industry and help continue to grow it.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

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